Saturday, November 25, 2017

Question: Liberals seem to prefer being called progressives. Why? Are they ashamed of being democrats deep down?

The answer to this question is partly semantics so we have to clear up the definitions first. Progressive thinking is associated with the Progressive Movement which operated from 1870–1940. Those Progressives agitated to reverse worker exploitation and corrupt politics. They were successful in that endeavor.
American Liberalism did not appear until after World War II. President Truman made opposition to communism a key component of his administration. That decision isolated the Progressives because they had been traditionally against foreign intervention. The actually ran Henry Wallace as a Progressive candidate against Truman in 1948. When Truman won, Liberals took control of the party and the Progressives became marginalized until the 1960s.
I say American Liberalism because, as at least one other person pointed out, it was very different that the European version we call “Classic” Liberalism.
American Liberalism prospered until the early seventies, when it got a bad name over the failure of the welfare system. That is what I think you mean by “ashamed”. Today’s Liberals do not want to be associated with big government programs that do not work and waste money.
As Liberalism waned, the Progressives rose again, starting during the George W. Bush administration.
Progressives sit to the left of Liberals in the Democratic Party. They are more aggressive about wanting change even to the point of changing the government. They are very sensitive to the poor and other disadvantaged groups and they hate capitalism as exploitative.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

What is the Progressive Gene about?

When you read the title of my book, you might wonder what it means. Genetics? Morality? Progressives? 

Here is a basic synopsis.

The Progressive Gene fuses the idea of a universal, genetically determined personal and social morality with the expression of that morality in the individual’s political philosophy. Although this connection extends to and encompasses society as a whole, the book focuses on the far left of the political spectrum, where the Progressives reside.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Political Morality. What is it?

Human beings live with two moralities: personal and social. The personal morality functions within the family: how we treat our family members. The other one is external: how we act with other people. External morality developed because human beings are social creatures and had to learn how to function in a group. Group compatibility offered protection that extended safety beyond the family unit. Group morality is an aggregate of the individuals in the group based on a consensus between them. To remain part of the group an individual has to follow those rules. This social morality was simple and worked well when man lived in small groups.

When agriculture began, man gave up his nomadic ways to live in one place and human group size grew enormously. Villages, towns, and cities developed. These human social structures required governments and laws. Social morality was now very complicated and inflexible. We experience the collision between our personal and social morality every day. For example, we know that abortion has been legalized, so if we are against abortion, we have to accept the law even though we disagree. We can also try to change the law, or move to a place that doesn’t have that law.

Our political morality is the result of our personal morality being mapped against the morality of society. Our party affiliation reflects the direction we’d like government to take to bring society’s morality into better alignment with our own.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Media in the United States

I stopped watching the news because of the negativity and useless content. The problem is an old one, in the sense that the media reports what they believe will increase viewership, but in doing so creates an imbalance in the coverage. Many unimportant items get reported that shouldn’t be and many important things never get reported.

In the past few years, the situation has gotten significantly worse. There are two reasons for this: the twenty-four hour news and the Internet. A twenty-four hour news cycle requires twenty-four hours of content and there aren’t that many important items to report, so  the media outlets fill the rest of the time with gossip and unless information. Prying into people’s personal lives has become commonplace and there is no privacy anymore.

The Internet has degraded news reporting even further because it has no filter. Anyone can call themselves a journalist (no experience required). This new form of communication competes with traditional media for readership so the old guard lowers its standards to stay relevant.

Because politics in the United States is so polarized, we get a constant stream of news from the ends of the political spectrum and nothing from the middle. This over reporting from the edges makes people think the world is the way the media describes it. Hitler’s propaganda minister once said, “Tell a lie enough times and people will believe it to be the truth.”

Thomas Jefferson said, “The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.

I get the news headlines on my phone these days. I use multiple sources to try and void bias, but at least I can decide what’s important without having the media decide for me.